Translated from a Japanese original, this terse but cozy episode features a bored cat, marbles and other rollable items, then a scary thunderstorm and a pair of comforting arms.
Moving from left to right at cued swipes with no simulated “page turns,” successive images of a black cat—looking sharp in a beret and starched collar—appear and dissolve against plain white backgrounds. In succession, the cat bats a marble, a ball of yarn, a world globe, a daruma (a round, hollow Japanese doll) and, in a lovely animated loop, Saturn’s rings while a sprightly tune plays in the background. The cat becomes a jagged ball of feline terror when a sudden storm rolls in but then relaxes bonelessly into the arms that reach down from above. The end comes quickly, and it is followed by several screens of publisher’s ads. The text, as spare as the art, swims into view piecemeal with a nonoptional audio reading attached; as it runs to lines like “Thunder goes / roar roar roar roar” and “Robin goes / prr prr” that just reflect visible actions or echo sound effects, it is superfluous.
Robin is definitely a cat with character, but this minimalist opener is more like a sampler than a developed story. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)